How to Respond to a Potential Client With No Budget

You’re having coffee with a prospective client. You’re chatting with them and getting an understanding of what they need. As you draw close to discussing pricing or proposals, they hit you with, “I have no budget.”

Say what?

How do you respond to this kind of statement? This is important because it can set the tone for your entire relationship with this potential client.

The best way to respond is to put the responsibility back on them. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but you need to help them remember why you both agreed to meet in the first place—this meeting is to determine if you plan to work together. Their budget is their issue and cannot become yours.

Here’s how you can put the responsibility back on them.

Ask a Simple Question to Reframe the Conversation

When they hit you with the “I’ve got no budget” statement, here’s a possible response:

“Determining how much to spend on *WHATEVER SERVICE YOU ARE OFFERING* can be difficult to gauge, but since you have no budget, what were you hoping to gain from meeting today?”

The key here is to not sound aggressive or angry, but to ask the question calmly and fairly. Your time is valuable. Were they really just wasting it or was their expectation different?

Either way, this response puts the responsibility back on them.

Here are a few possible answers to that question:

  • “Well, I don’t have a BIG budget…”
  • “I wanted to see how much it would cost, so that when I DO have a budget…”
  • “I was hoping to barter…”

Here’s what clients without a budget are typically hoping for when scheduling a consultation with you:

  • Free information
  • A significant discount so you’ll fight to work with them
  • A proposal outlining a strategy or service

None of these things are solid footing for a client relationship. Ideally, you’ll be able to start seeing the “I have no budget” types before they land a precious meeting with you, but if you find yourself in a situation like this, it’s important to reframe the conversation.

They need to understand your time is valuable.

Simply by agreeing to the meeting, they’ve acknowledged the possibility of hiring you. By now saying they have no budget, they’re taking away that possibility and that’s a GIANT contradiction.

Determine How to Move Forward With Clarity

By asking them what they’re hoping to achieve, you’ve reframed the conversation in a way that will lead to one of two results, both of which are fine with you.

Result #1: They do have a budget and this statement reveals a (feeble) negotiation tactic. At this point, you can very politely establish that you don’t enjoy negotiation games, and you also demonstrate that you’re a straight-shooter and can be trusted.

Result #2: They really don’t have a budget and you’ll know this isn’t a prospect who will become a client. At this point, you’ll know this is a waste of your valuable time and not to pursue them any longer. Thank them for the nice conversation and give them an awkward “end of Zoom Call” wave.

When you realize your worth, you stop giving people discounts.

If you’re struggling to find clients who can afford your product or service, contact us at GoBeyond SEO to discuss how you can better connect with your target audience!

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Kristy is an Assistant & Coordinator of Awesome. She has worked extensively in academic administration and brings a varied wealth of knowledge. As a self-starter, she is ready to take on news projects and see them through to completion. Always curious, Kristy is an avid researcher and delights in the challenge of learning new skills.

When Kristy isn’t organizing or researching something, you can find her listening to a true crime podcast, re-watching How I Met Your Mother or The Big Bang Theory and coming up with some crazy shenanigan for her family’s next adventure.


  1. Kristy prefers the Harry Potter books over the movies. Her favorite book is The Prisoner of Azkaban and her favorite character is Luna Lovegood. Ravenclaw house. She just started her 8-year-old son on listening to the books.
  2. Kristy has a nail technician license, esthetician license, medical assisting certification, associate degree, and bachelor’s degree. She didn’t get her full cosmetology license because she can barely do her own hair, she shouldn’t be trusted with someone else’s.
  3. She doesn’t know how to gamble but is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. She moved to Colorado three months before her 21st birthday.
  4. Her high school graduating class consisted of only 20 people.
  5. Kristy loves gift giving. One of her great joys in life is finding the “perfect” gift.
Kristy Elias